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    Men's Basketball Edged Out By Northern Illinois, 54-53
     

     
    Cedrick Banks dunks the ball during the first half against Northern Illinois.
     
    Cedrick Banks dunks the ball during the first half against Northern Illinois.
     
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    Dec 5, 2003

    Box Score

    Iowa City, Iowa -UIC senior Cedrick Banks' three-point attempt with three seconds left rimmed out and Northern Illinois held on for a 54-53 victory over the Flames in the opening game of the 2003 Gazette Hawkeye Challenge on Friday evening.

    The loss snaps UIC's (6-2) five-game winning streak and also breaks the Flames' string of 10 consecutive wins against in-state opponents. The Flames will now play in the consolation game of the tournament on Saturday versus the loser of the Iowa/Eastern Washington game at 5:45 p.m. The Huskies (3-1) advance to the title game at 8:15 p.m. versus the winner of that contest.

    Banks led UIC with a game-high 23 points while senior forward Armond Williams tallied his second straight double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Marcus Smallwood paced NIU with double-double of his own with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Anthony Maestranzi added 11, including a key three-pointer in the final two minutes.

    The Flames led by as many as 12 points in the opening stanza, but the Huskies cut the lead in half to trail by only six, 27-21, at intermission.

    NIU came out of the locker room with a sense of urgency, outscoring UIC 17-6 in the first 10 minutes to take a seven-point lead, 40-33. The Flames wouldn't go away, though, and eventually took the lead back, 53-52, with 1:12 left on a pair of free throws by Aaron Carr.

    With UIC pressing the Huskies, Maestranzi would find James Hughes wide open for a dunk with 56 seconds remaining for what would prove to be the game-winning basket.

    On the final possession, Flames point guard Martell Bailey found Aaron Carr for an open baseline jumper, but his shot rimmed long. The ball was rebounded by sophomore Elliott Poole, who found Banks for the final shot attempt.